Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report- April 20, 2023

Todd Ceisner with a  smallmouth bass
Todd Ceisner of Depew with a Niagara Bar smallmouth bass he caught on a jerkbait.

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

It was a fun week of fishing all the way around with the county bullhead contest, some early salmon and trout catches, smallmouth bass action turning on above and below Niagara Falls – including a massive 7.9-pound smallie – and the first reports of smelt off the Lewiston Sand Docks. Hopefully, the weather doesn’t shut things down for a few days.
It was brothers Taz Morrison from Wilson and Trevor Morrison of Buffalo who walked away with the top honors for first and second place in the 10th Annual Niagara County Bullhead Tournament last weekend. Taz won first with two fish weighing 3.90 pounds and Trevor scored second with 3.55 pounds to win $500 and $300 respectively. There were 131 anglers, including 32 junior anglers 12 years old and under competing in the contest last weekend. Top Junior angler was Ashton Botting with a 2-fish weight of 3.42 pounds. The winning Morrison duo were fishing in Wilson Harbor during the day and using shrimp

Chuck Lott III of Morgantown, West Va. shows off his 7.9-pound smallmouth bass
Chuck Lott III of Morgantown, West Va. shows off his 7.9-pound smallmouth bass he caught in Lake Ontario on a crankbait with Capt. Joe Sourji of Angler Edge.

Capt. Joe Sourji with Angler Edge Sportfishing sends word that Chuck Lott III from Morgantown, West Virginia, caught a personal best smallmouth bass while trolling with him over the weekend, a 7.9-pound fish. They also caught a mixed bag that included other bass, Coho salmon and lake trout, working the waters with crankbaits in 8 to 15 feet of water in the lake.

Capt. Frank Campbell with a Niagara Bar Coho salmon
Capt. Frank Campbell with a Niagara Bar Coho salmon taken on a jerkbait.

On the Niagara Bar, the trio of Mike Hooper, Mike Mongan, and Walt Zebker, all from Grand Island, took their maiden voyage on Sunday and caught a 17-pound king salmon and a Coho salmon using NK Goldie Hawn spoons in 35 feet of water. The first salmon of the year are always memorable. Other anglers further to the east, such as off Wilson and Olcott, were doing well on a mix of salmon and trout. It’s not too early to sign up for the Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby set to be held May 5-14. Sign up at This is the place to be!

Mike Rzucidlo with big lake trout
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught this big lake trout in the lower Niagara River this week using a pearl-colored tube jig.
Mike Ziehm with a chunky lower river lake trout.
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls with a chunky lower river lake trout.

In the lower river, Mike Fox of Youngstown sends word that the first reports of smelt have come in at the Lewiston Landing area. Catches have been sporadic. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls reports that he had 5 feet -plus of visibility but the rain Sunday night combined with cold winds colored up the water a bit. We are now sitting at 3 feet of visibility and not knowing if any more color change was coming due to more wind in the forecast. Ziehm caught his fish, including lake trout, steelhead, and walleye, on his No. 4 chartreuse and orange mixed spinners and silvers or white and silver bucktail jigs. Tommy Holycross of Wheatfield reported that the NYPA Fish Platform was on fire this past week for a mix of species. Multiple steelhead were hooked and landed, mostly on beads. However, Holycross said a few were caught on minnows. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught 4 lake trout and a sucker using pearl-colored tubes and No. 4 spinners on Monday. Minnows fished off three-way rigs will take fish from boats. Down at the mouth, Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston reported good action the tail end of last week at the mouth casting for bass and Coho salmon using jerkbaits with media maven Todd Ceisner with In-Fisherman Magazine. They caught a half-dozen Coho salmon.

Lisa Winch of North Tonawanda with an upper Niagara River smallmouth bass.
Lisa Winch of North Tonawanda with an upper Niagara River smallmouth bass.
Wade Winch  with smallmouth bass
Wade Winch of North Tonawanda found some great bass action in the upper river last weekend.

In the upper river above Niagara Falls, Wade Winch of North Tonawanda and his wife, Lisa, enjoyed some great action their last time out using Ned rigs and swim baits. They boated over a dozen bass in a late afternoon trip.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

Browns, lakers, and a few salmon are being caught trolling east of Sodus Bay to Port Bay and back.
Fishing was good over the weekend until the wind turned and came from northeast on Sunday.

Browns were in 10 to 15 fow and were hitting Bay Rat stickbaits and perch colored Smithwick trolling lures.
Lakers were in 45 fow and hitting spin and glow with peanuts.


Port Bay has clearer water than last week. Some crappies were caught on the south end of the bay, straight out from the boat launch. Crappies will bite on anything that is bright. They are a suspending fish so move around close to shore in 10 fow. New legal size is now 10 inches for keepers.

The channel at the north end of the bay is now open and in excellent shape for boat traffic…deep and wide. You can launch a boat at the DEC ramp and go out in Lake Ontario.

Sodus Bay has perch action on the northwest corner of the bay. Perch have been in 20 fow. Use chartreuse and white two- or three-inch rubber bait or go with live minnows.

The bullhead bite is on. Bay Bridge on the south end of Sodus is a popular spot or rent a boat and fish close to shore. Worms are still the favorite bait for catching bullheads.

Pike season ended March 15th and resumes May 1st.

When you launch your boat… remember from November 1st until May 1st New York’s law requires you to wear your PFD. That means it cannot be laying around your boat. It must be worn.

Bait for fishing is available on the south end of Sodus at Davenports and Bay Bridge Sport Shop.
On Port Bay Jarvis Bait shop is open on Brown Road. The signs are on East Port Bay Road at the junction of Brown Road. In Ontario, Grantley’s Bait at 1864 Route 104 Ontario, NY.

Erie Canal

The crappies are hitting under the Port Gibson Bridge at Widewaters. Fish from shore or launch a boat at the Widewaters launch site.

This is another hot spot for tasty panfish…bluegills and sunnies.

The New York State Canal Corporation recently announced that, conditions permitting, all portions of the New York State Canal system are scheduled to open Friday, May 19, 2023, at 7:00 a.m. for the 199th consecutive season of navigation.

Notable Freshwater Fishing Regulation Changes

The following list offers a summary of the most notable fishing regulation changes resulting from the adopted rulemakings described above.

  • New statewide regulation for rainbow trout, brown trout, and splake in lakes and ponds. The season will now be open year-round, with a five-fish daily limit, any size, with a “no more than two longer than 12 inches” harvest rule.
  • Statewide Atlantic salmon regulations will now allow for a year-round open season.
  • Ice fishing is permitted on all waters in New York unless specifically prohibited with the exception of Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington counties where previous rules remain.
  • New specific dates replaced floating dates for statewide season openers to include:
    • May 1 – Walleye, Northern Pike, Pickerel, and Tiger Muskellunge.
    • June 1 – Muskellunge. (Note that in 2022, DEC will allow for the fishing of muskellunge beginning the last Saturday in May to accommodate previously planned fishing trips);and
    • June 15 – Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass.
  • A five-fish daily walleye limit in Oneida Lake.
  • A new regulation to limit the growth of the walleye population in Skaneateles Lake. No daily possession limit; 12-inch minimum size limit, open year-round.
  • The statewide sunfish daily harvest limit has been reduced from 50 to 25 fish: and
  • The statewide minimum size limit for crappie has been increased from nine inches to ten inches.

Orleans County

Orleans County steelhead

Orleans County Sportfishing Coordinator Ron Bierstine:

Trib wise – back to a bit of a cool down in the weather for this beginning and mid week period after some unseasonably warm temps. There was some precipitation on the cool down with a chance of showers today. Look for a slight warm up for end part of the week/begin part of the weekend and then another cool down end part of the weekend/begin part of next week. Flows for now down some from slightly high to about medium and slightly stained with 2 – 3 ft of visibility in the Oak. Water temps are just hanging in cool enough now thanks to the cooler weather to hopefully still find a few steelhead lingering or dropping back in the Oak.

Fishing pressure pretty light so reports are thin to confirm any steelhead hook ups. There are definitely smallmouth bass catch and release chances though and guys have been into some good Lake run fish. The other area smaller tribs have moderate and dropping flows and slightly stained or going toward clear water color with mostly bass and warm water hook up chances. A west wind forecast today and tomorrow after the previous flat and calm and clear should make for some stained water brown trout pier and shoreline casting chances especially on the backside days as things clear for semi stained conditions.

Mister Sportfishing coho salmon
You too might find a great Coho like this 11 lb beauty jumping on the end of your light spring trolling rigs! Courtesy of Capt. Jonathan Forder, Mister Sportfishing

For the open Lake action, we are following a stretch of flat and calm where the near shore waters went on the clear side. Even in that skinny water, Capt. Jon Forder from Mister Sportfishing found some hungry brown trout along with a mixed bag catch including a real nice Coho. Check out the pic below for a great fish that jumped 5 feet out of the water! There’s been good numbers of mostly smaller browns hooked up but some bigger drop back trib fish are mixed in. For the mid week period looks like we may get some stiffer winds that could set up some nice near shore color for end of week or weekend.

And Capt. Rob Westcott from Legacy Sportfishing says “any rain, wind and cooler temps should improve the shoreline brown trout action later this week. Lake trout action should improve as the season moves along generally in that 50 – 80fow range. Bait is showing up in the 80 – 160fow range and they’ll be moving closer shortly. Look for better numbers of Kings in the spring catch as the bait moves in.”

All in all, things look ahead of schedule but maybe some cooler weather will help stall the spring time action from moving along too quick. Enjoy your rec or charter action and practice catch and release where practical for good future hook up chances! Spring and cold water shallow fish probably offer the best chances of the season to let a few successfully go.

Jason Brownlie with 5lb brown trout
Jason Brownlie caught this 5 lb brown trout between Bald Eagle Marina and Troutburg in 7 ft of water. Caught on a Warrior XL Black Pearl Spoon. Courtesy of Capt. Lou Borrelli of Get the Net Fishing Charters.

Capt. Lou from Get the Net Fishing Charters said the past weekend was a tale of two fishing stories. “On Saturday we found great color and decent temps in 7 – 10fow. Out of Bald Eagle we headed east and just before Troutburg we picked up a small brown. As the sun came up a slight E wind started up and pushed a little colder water in. We made our pass to Devil’s Nose and then headed back west toward port hoping for some warmer water. We found the warmer water from port to the Pines and the bite was good so we worked that water for a good number of bites. Most were smaller browns with a few better ones mixed in. What worked for us was Warrior XL black pearl, Coville Crusher and Green Spoiler. On Sunday it was tougher action when we worked the same water. The water was clearing and the bite disappeared. We picked a couple fish but headed out deeper hoping for better action. We worked out to 60fow and got just a small Coho, so we ended the day early. There were a few other boats that landed Kings. It was a beautiful morning on the Lake for us regardless!”

Oswego County

Cameron from Balwinsville NY, with a big steelhead
Cameron from Balwinsville NY, with a big steelhead caught while fishing with STS Guide Service

Salmon River

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast
Click Here to see the the CFS at Pineville

The water on the Salmon River has finally stabilized after ups and downs over the last few weeks. This has led to some good fishing. After the extremely warm weather we saw last week things have cooled down tremendously; which will help keep water temps down and prolong the river season.

Steelhead are still in the act of spawning. So be careful where you wade. Fish are still spread throughout the entire river from the upper FlyZone to the DSR. So overall crowds have been light.

The best bait to use right now are beads and pink worms! Best color varies but a good starting point are beads that have a yellow hue. Fire worms and power bait have been good in the bubble gum color.

Fly anglers have been finding success running egg patterns in a variety of colors, such as copper pink, peach, and chartreuse. An egg sucking leech or woolly bugger in black or olive has been productive too, along with the “San Juan worm.”

Ben, from CT, with a big lake trout
Ben, from CT, with a big lake trout caught while fishing with Dirty Goose.

Lake Ontario – Oswego

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

The water around Oswego Harbor has been clearing up as the high water flows from the Oswego River subside. Finding active fish in colored water is the key to a successful trip this time of year. Boats have been having success both east and west of the harbor.

Best baits have been standard size stingers in a mix of colors. Glo Alewife, Black Widow, Uv buster, and Killer Mongoose. Other options are stick baits in black silver, blue silver and Jailbreak.

Lake Ontario Report – Mexico, NY

Click Here of the 10 day Forecast

In Mexico Bay, the water has less color and the fish are more spread out than Oswego. Concentrate around the creek mouths and you should find better color. But with the west winds this week the fish should be pushed back into the shallows and also condensed.

In the Clearwater, black and silver‘s black widows, gold perch, ghost and golden bass have all been taking plenty of bites.

Oneida Lake WalleyeFest Derby

Now in its 44th year the derby will be updated, expanded, and made into a 3-day Music, Food, and vendor festival to kick-off SPRING in CNY! WalleyeFest consists of:

  • 2-day Walleye derby with KIDS only division, Largest CASH prizes of ANY derby in NYS!
  • Live Music Friday & Saturday nights
  • Food trucks & beer tent
  • Outdoor Sports
  • Home & Outdoor show on festival grounds
  • In-water boat show with Demo rides.


The Awakening Angler YouTube Channel and O.M.F. Events/ Limp Lizard BBQ have partnered together to carry on the CNY tradition of the opening weekend Walleye Derby on Oneida Lake.


May 5 – Sunday May 7. The festival starts Friday night at 5pm with a kickoff party. The festival runs on Saturday from 10am – 10pm and Sunday 10am – 6pm at Lighthouse Park Rt 37, Central Square NY.


The Derby is on Oneida Lake NY. Measuring stations are located around the lake. Derby Headquarters and Festival grounds are located at Lighthouse Park, Co. Rt 37, Central Square NY. 13036

Free Oswego Fishing Guide

Click Here to Order a Free Guide

The 68-page guide includes a detailed overview of fishing opportunities on eastern Lake Ontario, Oneida Lake, the Oswego and Salmon rivers and a variety of other tributaries, as well as the more than 40,000 acres of public lands available for hunting.

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